The tall and short of it
Racing drivers Justin Wilson and Michael Caruso are proof that motor racing is a sport where drivers of all different shapes and sizes have equal ability to shine.
Just as league has its half-backs and front rowers and AFL has its ruckman and rovers, motorsport has stars with a different look on the world.
The two recreated the famous film ‘Twins’ with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito yesterday while Wilson is in town for the launch of this year’s Lexmark Indy 300.
Wilson is one of the stars of the Champ Car World Series, and is currently second in the series standings ahead of the next round here on the Gold Coast on October 18-21.
The Englishman, who is currently second in this year’s championship, measures in at a towering 195 centimeters and is widely regarded as one of the tallest stars on the international motorsport scene.
V8 Supercar driver Caruso on the other hand, is 165 centimeters tall, sporting a figure more recognizable for a racer, where cars are built with little accommodation for tall frames like Wilson’s.
Wilson has raced in Formula One and will even compete in a Sportscar event next weekend in the United States. While it can be a tight squeeze for Wilson to fit into his usual ride, the #8 CDW car for Colorado-based RuSport Champ Car team, he says that with some minor adjustments, he can do the same job as the other drivers.
“I’ve always been tall throughout my racing career so it’s been something that I am used to talking about,” said Wilson.
“When I go to a new team or do a one-off race with another team like I will next weekend, straight away I know the little tricks that can make it an easier fit for me in the car.
“You can move the pedal box further forward in the car, move the seat back and all those obvious things, but I’ve found that things like reducing the padding in the seat and changing the seat angle can make it easier for me as well.
“Formula One was probably the hardest car to squeeze into but even then it was possible with a bit of planning. I’m used to driving with my arms rubbing on the side of the cockpit so it’s all I know and it’s what I’m used to now.
Caruso is one of Australia’s rising stars on the motorsport scene, racing in this year’s V8 Supercar endurance races with Craig Gore’s Gold Coast-based WPS/WOW Racing at Sandown and Bathurst.
Caruso followed an open-wheel path through his junior years, winning the Australian Formula 3 Championship before switching to V8 Supercars.
The young Sydneysider is open to a career in either V8 Supercar or Champ Car, where his stature would be a perfect fit for the sleek 850-horsepower open-wheel machines.
“I knew I was never going to be a basketballer but that’s fine by me because all I’ve ever wanted to be is a racing driver.
“Most drivers you will see around the world, especially in open-wheel racing like Champ Car and Formula One, are about my height.
“When I raced the open-wheel Formula 3 cars a few years ago the cockpit seemed small and tight fitting, even for me. Formula 3 is a class that Justin ran in Europe when he was younger so I can’t image how he would have gone getting into the car.
“I think that shows how determined he is and how well he’s done to reach the top level of the sport. I’ve got my focus on V8 Supercars at the moment but I’d certainly love to join him in Champ Car one day because those cars are just awesome with all that power and grip.”